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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Carter Hart will be back in net when Canada plays Denmark on Saturday night in its final preliminary round game of the world junior hockey championship.
Hart made 32 saves in Friday’s shootout loss to the United States in cold, snowy conditions at New Era Field, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. The outdoor game took nearly five hours to complete as there were several stoppages for snow removal.
There had been some speculation that goaltender Colton Point might get the start so Hart could rest ahead of the playoffs. But head coach Dominique Ducharme said that Hart would get the nod.
“We have two days off before the quarter-finals, and we want Hart to play,” Ducharme said. “He was good yesterday and it will be 24 hours between both games. By the end of the game, 24 hours.
“He’s used to playing back to backs.”
Hart stopped 29 shots in Canada’s 4-2 win over Finland to open the tournament on Tuesday. Point played the next night, earning a 20-save shutout in Canada’s 6-0 rout of Slovakia.
After the loss to the United States, Hart said he would be prepared to play against Denmark if needed.
Although Canada and the United States have two victories apiece in Group A, the Canadians have earned seven points to the Americans’ five. Canada’s two regulation-time wins have more value, and their overtime loss also gave them a point.
The Americans, who were idle Saturday, have won once in regulation and lost once in regulation.
With a regulation win over Denmark at Key Bank Center, Canada will be guaranteed first place in the group standings regardless of the result from Sunday’s game between the U.S. and Finland.
Ducharme said while the loss to the United States was disappointing, he feels the Canadians are still gelling and are in a good position heading into the playoffs.
“We wanted to use the first part of the tournament to build momentum, to learn, to see what it takes to win at this level,” he said. “I think we’re doing that. We wanted to take the best possible position to get into the playoff round and we have a chance tonight to take the first spot in our group and that’s what we’re playing for tonight.”
Denmark, meanwhile, started the day in last place in Group A after two losses. Entering the Canada game, Denmark has been outscored 13-1.
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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press